Thursday, June 24, 2010

If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em!

Rain. Rain. Rain! We've had lots of it this month...more than enough for 3 months put together. So far, in June we've poured 12.75" out of our rain gauge and there's still another week left...yikes! Even though we sit at the top of a hill there is still water standing in the gardens and let me tell you, vegetables don't like wet feet! Crops are failing; spinach, salad, cabbages, broccoli, edamame, peas. A number of crops are holding their own, but even those are so buried in weeds that its a little hard to tell. The high tunnel crops look great, but they just aren't ready quite yet.

At market, we can squeak by with a thin produce offering, because we have other products but CSA is always our greatest concern and this weekend I was fairly sure that we would have to cancel Tuesday's box delivery. The only thing I could find in the garden that was healthy and plentiful enough to go in 35 boxes was spring turnips...beautiful turnips true, but I can't just give people a box of turnips! So at market on Saturday I started telling any CSA members that stopped by the booth that we would likely cancel this week, that I would send out an email after inspecting the gardens again that afternoon.

Later that day as I walked through the beds with the mud sucking at my boots I admired the 100's of feet of summer squashes covered with their beautiful, glowing yellow blooms. Blooms...blossoms...squash blossoms...SQUASH BLOSSOMS! That's it! We have squash blossoms, though we've never harvested them as such, a number of farms do and they are considered quite the delicacy! And daylilly buds, we have those too! Plus a beautiful crop of basil ready in the high tunnel, I think we can do this. But what will we do for greens? We always have greens in the boxes and there isn't enough chard in the tunnel for 35 boxes and nothing else is ready. Nothing except all the damn weeds that are taking over everything! Then a thought struck...We've been custom harvesting edible weeds for a market customer for the past year...could we do it for the whole CSA? Why not? Braising Greens for everyone!

In addition to the chard, we collected purslane, lambsquarters, amaranth, sour dock, sorrel, violet leaves and dandelion. All quite tasty and very nutritious greens and many of which you will see featured in the multitude of herbicide commercials running on TV right now. And I can sympathize with the people who use those chemicals right now, as those weeds and many less palatable ones are taking over the gardens.

So it took a little longer, as foraging/weeding/harvesting is a little more time-consuming than harvesting a cultivated crop, but harvest we did and the boxes came out looking ok. They contained:
Basil, Braising Greens Mix, Uncured Garlic, Peas,Squash Blossoms or daylily blossoms and Turnips. I'm always nervous about the boxes in thin times...I want them to always be full-to-the-brim, bounteous goodness and I'm uncomfortable when they aren't. But regardless, we filled them with everything we had, loaded up the vehicles and headed for the delivery sites.

Many members asked how things were going and if there was anything they could do to help. "Just enjoy your produce and embrace the adventure." We told them, what else is there to say when you are delivering carefully harvested, cleaned and bagged weeds and flowers?
Then later that evening we received this message from a member:

"We greatly relished Tuesday's Clan of the Cave Bear/Euell Gibbons retrospective forage food box...It was a very creative, retrospective supper." -David

Clan of the Cave Bear/Euell Gibbons retrospective forage food box! I LOVE IT!
That's the best thing I've heard all week! Hopefully we won't have to resort to quite this level of foraging in the future, but from now on whenever we harvest "wild greens" that's what we're going to call them.

Its still a hard season, but with such wonderful members and customers who are willing to embrace the adventure of supporting a small, local farm, it sure makes it easier.
Thanks guys!

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